Project Pyra: 3D Printed Smart Oven Cooks Your Dinner; Incubates Cells in the Lab

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fathom_logo_150x100Fathom has harnessed thermal heat. They have mastered digital design with the use of electronics. They have a Stratasys Fortus 900mc 3D printer, and they know how to use it. And with years of refining, modern technology, and a simple pyramid design, the Pyra is your first 3D printed smart oven. Not really just meant for roasting succulent meats and baking up those red velvet cupcakes, the Pyra is meant to be an important tool in the lab for creating and baking up new cell structures, or elsewhere when thorough, enclosed thermal heating is required.

It features no fire. It also features no buttons. No switches. This 3D printed oven, functioning via a 3D printed fan and forced air convection, is important to consider, as it’s one fantastical glimpse into our future of streamlined tools employing the Internet of Things (IoT). Controlled by a web-based app and connected to the cloud, Project Pyra allows for setting of temperatures and heating times without ever touching the device.

UntitledCreated, as many genius applications in science and engineering are, and refined over a number of years, the Pyra is the innovation of Carlo Quiñonez, director of research at Fathom, and also the recipient of Design Differently’s ‘Model of the Month’ in May for the thermal conducting device, which was originally known as the Aquino Thermal Chamber. Part of a design for an incubator he started on in 2009, the Pyra evolved as Quiñonez continued to work on the heating device, finally throwing out the metal heating chamber altogether, and aiming for a design that was completely 3D printed, aside from electronics.

There were of course numerous challenges to overcome in this design, mainly regarding the geometry of the design and heat flow, as well as the use of plastics, which obviously present melting hazards when at the tipping point with high heat. Using extremely durable material, in the form of ULTEM 1010 material, with an NSF 51 food-contact certification, the heat issue had to be thoroughly considered and tackled with regards to diffusion at low wattage, even heating overall, and the design of heat exchangers is one of the most unique parts of the design–allowing for extraction of heat from the air, efficiently.

The pyramid shape gave the ability to use 45 degree, self-supporting, sloping sides. This was crucial because with a complicated geometry, removing supports afterward was not a possibility. The Pyra required around 80 hours of time for 3D printing on the Fortus 900mc 3D printer. Employing Raspberry Pi + Arduino electronics, and featuring an open-source design, Quiñonez sees this as a tool that others in his field should be able to find useful, especially with the option to customize the design–and improve it–according to their specific scientific and/or engineering requirements.

“My big vision with this project is to enable community-driven development of the tools scientists use in the lab,” said Quiñonez in an interview on the Design Differently Blog by the Fusion 360 team. “The plan is to make the thermal chamber designs open-source so anyone can download, customize, and 3D print their own versions.”

UntitledQuiñonez, with a doctorate in biology and a background in research, is a scientist first and an engineer second; he credits this for his ability to look beyond the traditional, normal practices for using tools, seeing scientists as natural ‘makers.’

“I hope this design inspires designers and engineers to challenge the way they think about product design and manufacturing,” said Quiñonez. “Every day, the FATHOM team is pushing the boundaries of what is possible for industry-leading companies across the country. Professionals needs to rethink their approach because remarkable efficiencies can be achieved like never before.”

UntitledThis is just one more beginning–perhaps not just for the kitchen–but to see a sector becoming self-sustainable as they are able to design and produce their own, very important tools that can be affordably customized, adapted, and 3D printed according to continually changing projects and applications.

Fathom, headquartered in Oakland, CA, with an office in Seattle, houses production facilities with an ‘expansive collection’ of 3D printers, production systems, and all the high-tech tools needed to fulfill their commitment to high-tech, quality prototyping services.

What do you think of the idea of a 3D printed smart oven? Have you thought of any 3D printed thermal designs similar to this one? Discuss in the 3D Printed Smart Oven forum thread over at 3DPB.com. Check out the video below introducing the project.

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